Career Pathways PBL Leadership Academy Guest Faculty

2016–2017 Guest Faculty

Larry Rosenstock, J.D., M.Ed, L.H.D, is CEO and founding principal of High Tech High, a network of K-12 public charter schools in California, as well as dean of the HTH GSE as well as a core faculty member. He is also Larry taught carpentry in urban high schools in Boston and Cambridge and was principal of the Rindge School of Technical Arts, and of the Cambridge Rindge and Latin School. A member of the Massachusetts and U.S. Supreme Court Bars, he served as an attorney at the Harvard Center for Law and Education, and served as lecturer at the Harvard Graduate School of Education and Visiting Professor at UC Berkeley School of Education. He directed the federal New Urban High School Project, and was president of the Price Charitable Fund. He is a winner of the Ford Foundation Innovations in State and Local Government Award, an Ashoka Fellow, and recipient of the McGraw Prize in Education.


Rob Riordan Ed.D.,  is a co-founder of High Tech High and President Emeritus of the HTH Graduate School of Education. A teacher, trainer, and program developer for over 40 years, he has worked with teams to develop 14 new schools (11 at High Tech High) spanning the K-12 years. As a long-time teacher in the Cambridge (MA) Rindge and Latin School, Rob developed an award-winning writing center and two pioneering school-to-work transition programs: the Cambridge-Polaroid Technical Internship Program and the Cambridge-Lesley Careers in Education Program. For several years during this time, as a faculty member of the Harvard Graduate School of Education, he led the practicum seminar for Harvard’s student teachers. Later, under the auspices of the Office of Vocational and Adult Education in the U.S. Department of Education, he directed the New Urban High School project that led to the development of High Tech High. Rob holds a B.A. from Haverford College and an M.A.T. and Ed.D. from the Harvard Graduate School of Education, where his doctoral dissertation was a five-year case history of the evolution of goals and practices in a public alternative high school. He is co-author, with Adria Steinberg and Kathleen Cushman, of Schooling for the Real World: The Essential Guide to Rigorous and Relevant Learning.


Albert Yu Min Lin,  Ph.D. is a Research Scientist at the University of California, San Diego and an Emerging Explorer of the National Geographic Society in the field of technology enabled exploration. He is an expert in merging remote exploration with crowd-sourced citizen science an emergent collective reasoning.


He has founded and directed numerous programs including the UC San Diego, National Geographic Engineers for Exploration Program, the Exploration Lab, the Distributed Health Labs and the international effort known as the Valley of the Khans Project. Based at the California Institute of Telecommunications and Information Technology (Calit2) at UC San Diego he pushes the limits of field based research.

Albert's research has taken him into the most remote regions of the world, has led to industry changing innovations, and has expanded the role of media in science. His work has been featured in outlets including the Washington Post, BBC, NPR, ABC News, TEDx, Wired magazine, Gizmodo, al Jazeera, National Geographic, Newsweek (cover story), and the Harvard Business Review. The effort he may be best known for, the Valley of the Khans Project, is a high tech ground, aerial and satellite based remote sensing non-destructive search for the tomb of Genghis Khan that was featured in a 1-hour National Geographic Documentary film, "the Forbidden Tomb of Genghis Khan", which he also narrated. The goal of this effort, to enable international protection of a sacred region of Mongolia through non-destructive investigation, earned him recognition as National Geographic Adventure Magazine’s "2010 Readers Choice Adventurer of the Year", the Lowell Thomas Medal for Exploration from the renowned New York based Explorers Club, and became the youngest recipient of the DRI Nevada Medal for Science Education.


Emily Pilloton is the founder of Project H Design, the co-founder of Studio H, and the Director of Creativity at Realm Charter School. A designer on paper and teacher in practice, Emily works at the intersection of design and public education, believing that creative problem solving and hands-on building are an untapped opportunity within education and communities.


Emily co-founded Studio H, a public high school "design/build" curriculum that sparks community development through real-world, built projects. Originally launched in rural Bertie County, North Carolina, Studio H is now based at REALM Charter School in Berkeley, CA.


Emily is the founder and director of Project H Design (design initiatives for Humanity, Habitats, Health, and Happiness), a nonprofit design and architecture agency that uses the power of design and hands-on building to catalyze communities and public education from within. Project H has a core focus on using design and full-scale building projects to activate public education systems in the US and to provide a more engaged learning framework for K-12 students, particularly in rural communities. Since 2009, Emily and her partner have been based in rural Bertie County, North Carolina, one of the most resource-poor counties in the nation. There, the two teach Project H’s cornerstone program, Studio H, a high school design/build curriculum that results in student-built architecture projects for community benefit.

Emily is an industrial designer, architect, writer, and builder. In the past she has contributed to magazines such as GOOD, FastCompany, ReadyMade, Interior Design, ID Magazine and Innovative Home. Her work has been reported and showcased on The Colbert Report, and in The New York Times, Metropolis Magazine, Dwell Magazine, and GOOD Magazine.


Tony Simmons is the Executive Director of High School for Recording Arts (HSRA), an independent public charter school, and Vice President of Studio 4 Enterprises, an educational services and management company.


While working with numerous national recording artists and record companies as an entertainment lawyer, Tony met David Ellis and assisted him in the formation of Studio 4/High School for Recording Arts. During that time, he co-founded Another Level Records, the first national student-operated record label. In addition to his duties overseeing the day to day program at HSRA, Tony continues to work with students in exploring the Business of Music and mentoring those involved in Another Level Records, as well as overseeing the student-operated commercial radio show entitled studio4allaccess, which airs every Friday evening on 89.9 FM Minneapolis/St. Paul and is podcasted through iTunes.


Tony has served as board member and/or provided technical assistance to such leading national school reform organizations as Edvisions, Inc. and the Black Alliance for Educational Options. He has spoken or presented at numerous conferences including the Oxford Roundtable, Oxford University (Designing Leadership and Practices for the Future of Public Education), University of Illinois at Springfield (In The Mix: Cross Dialogues Regarding Hip Hop Culture), Minnesota State University at Mankato (Juvenile Delinquency and the Studio Model), and the keynote at Deeper Learning 2016. He was also part of the development team for Minnesota's first online project-based charter school called EdVisions Online Academy.


Ron Berger is Chief Academic Officer for Expeditionary Learning. EL is a network of over 160 public schools in 30 states—an organization that partners with districts and charter boards to found public high schools in low-income communities that send all graduates to college, and helps to transform existing public schools K–12 toward high student achievement, character and citizenship. EL’s core work is building teacher capacity through professional development, professional resources and open-source literacy curriculum.


Ron works closely with the Harvard Graduate School of Education, where he did his graduate work and now teaches a course that uses exemplary student project work to illuminate academic standards. With Harvard colleague Steve Seidel, he founded The Center for Student Work, an open-source collection of the nation’s best K-12 student project work. He is an Annenberg Foundation Teacher Scholar, and received the Autodesk Foundation National Teacher of the Year award. He is the author of An Ethic of Excellence, and A Culture of Quality; recently, Leaders of Their Own Learning, and Transformational Literacy.


Ron was a public school teacher and master carpenter in rural Massachusetts for over 25 years. His writing and speaking center on inspiring quality and character in students, specifically through project-based learning, original scientific and historical research, service learning, and the infusion of arts. He works with the national character education movement to embed character values into the core of academic work.


Ashanti Branch works to change how young men of color interact with their education and how their schools interact with them. Raised in Oakland by a single mother on welfare, Ashanti left the inner city to study civil engineering at Cal Poly – San Luis Obispo. A construction project manager in his first career, his life changed after he tutored struggling students and realized his passion for teaching. In 2004, during Ashanti’s first year teaching high school math, he started The Ever Forward Club to provide support for African American and Latino males who were not achieving to their potential. Ashanti has held teaching and leadership roles in California public schools while working to grow the Ever Forward Club. Since 2004, Ever Forward has helped all of its more than 150 members graduate from high school, and 93% of them have gone on to attend two- or four-year colleges, military or trade school.

The Ever Forward Club was featured last year in the documentary, “The Mask You Live In,” which premiered at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival. During his Stanford Design School fellowship, Ashanti worked full-time on Ever Forward, in an effort to grow the organization to serve thousands of Bay Area students. Ashanti can be found on Twitter at @everforwardclub.

Victor Diaz, J.D., is the Founder and President of the Board of REALM Charter Schools. Victor was formally the Principal of Berkeley Technology Academy (BTECH), where he raised the API score 270 points in three years and earned the school its first accreditation through the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC). Prior to BTECH, Victor was the principal of Community Academy in Boston. He has also served as a coach in SFUSD where he led  instructional technology training. Victor is a Koshland Fellow, a Redford Center Honoree and a Ph.D Candidate in Language, Literacy, Society, and Culture at the University of California at Berkeley. He holds a BA from UCLA, a JD from the New College of California Law School, and a Master's of Education in Instructional Technology from the University of San Francisco.

Past Guest Faculty Members

Adria Steinberg leads Jobs for the Future’s program and policy development efforts to improve the educational options and prospects of young people who have disengaged or disconnected altogether from the educational and workforce systems. Ms. Steinberg and her Back on Track team work with state, district, intermediary, and federal policy and practice leaders to improve graduation rates and support the creation and scale up of high-quality pathways to family-supporting careers and postsecondary credentials for off-track and disconnected youth.  The team serves as the implementation partner in the Aspen Institute’s Opportunity Youth Incentive Fund, providing strategic support to 21 communities implementing a collective impact approach to developing pathways to postsecondary credentials for opportunity youth.

Ms. Steinberg also is the senior advisor to JFF’s Students at the Center team; in that capacity she has co-authored and served as developmental editor of numerous papers produced or commissioned by JFF as part of a growing research base for student-centered approaches to learning and for deeper learning competencies.   

Ms. Steinberg was co-founder of an alternative high school, the academic coordinator charged with reinventing a vocational high school program within a large comprehensive high school, and co-principal in a consulting company that staffed national advocacy efforts such as Our Children at Risk, a commission chaired by Marion Wright Edelman and Harold Howe.

Ms. Steinberg has authored many publications, including a five-year stint as primary writer/editor of The Harvard Education Letter. Among recent publications, she is co-author of Achieving Collective Impact for Opportunity Youth (Stanford Social Innovation Fund Review); Anytime, Anywhere: Student Centered Learning for Schools and Teachers (Harvard Education Press); Pathway to Recovery: Implementing a Back on Track Through College Model; The Past and the Promise: Today’s Competency Education Movement; and Raising Graduation Rates in an Era of High Standard. Ms. Steinberg holds a Bachelor's of Arts with honors from Swarthmore College and a Master's in Education from Boston University.


Elliot Washor, Ed.D. is the co-founder of Big Picture Learning. He is also the co-founder of The Met Center in Providence, RI. Elliot has been involved in school reform for more than 30 years as a teacher, principal, administrator, video producer, and writer. He has taught and is interested in all levels of school from kindergarten through college, in urban and rural settings, across all disciplines. His work has spanned across school design, pedagogy, learning environments, and education reform and is supporting others doing similar work throughout the world. Elliot’s interests lie in the field of how schools can connect with communities to understand tacit and disciplinary learning both in and outside of school. Elliot is deeply committed to imagining Big Picture Learning as a ‘do-think-do’ organization, and persistently pushes the boundaries of its design in order to continually innovate practice and influence in the world of education.

At Thayer High School in Winchester, N.H., Elliot’s professional development programs won an “Innovations in State and Local Government Award” from the Ford Foundation and the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. He has been selected as an educator to watch in Rhode Island and has recently been selected as one of the Daring Dozen – the Twelve Most Daring Educators in the World by the George Lucas Educational Foundation. His dissertation on Innovative Pedagogy and New Facilities won the merit award from DesignShare, the international forum for innovative schools.


Katie Rast is the Executive Director of Fab Lab San Diego, working as a liaison with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to co-site, develop and implement the San Diego instantiation of the MIT Global Network. From this origin, Katie has built local partnerships in order to create a community-embedded learning laboratory and develop related educational programs with a deep commitment to community access to education and career pathways.

Educational programs developed or co-developed by Rast have been formally recognized by the MIT Media Lab, The United Nations High Commission on Refugees, Community Technology Association, Education Development Corporation, San Diego Councilmember Marti Emerald, and Congresswoman Susan Davis.

Katie has been a presenter at the White House Roundtable on Science and Technology Policy, the Community Technology Networks of America Symposium, the ACLU Youth Conference, The Sparkplug Talks on New Media and Innovation, SIGGRAPH 2010: The International Conference on Computer Graphics and Interactive Techniques, and FAB5: The Fifth International Fab Lab Forum and Symposium on Digital Fabrication.


Dr. Yong Zhao

Dr. Yong Zhao is an internationally known scholar, author, and speaker. His works focus on the implications of globalization and technology on education. He has designed schools that cultivate global competence, developed computer games for language learning, and founded research and development institutions to explore innovative education models. He has published over 100 articles and 20 books, including Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Dragon: Why China has the Best (and Worst) Education System in the World, Catching Up or Leading the Way: American Education in the Age of Globalization and World Class Learners: Educating Creative and Entrepreneurial Students. He is a recipient of the Early Career Award from the American Educational Research Association and was named one of the 2012 10 most influential people in educational technology by the Tech & Learn Magazine. He is an elected fellow of the International Academy for Education. His latest book World Class Learners won the Society of Professors of Education Book Award (2013), Association of Education Publishers’ (AEP) Judges’ Award and Distinguished Achievement Award in Education Leadership(2013).

He currently serves as the Presidential Chair and Director of the Institute for Global and Online Education in the College of Education, University of Oregon, where he is also a Professor in the Department of Educational Measurement, Policy, and Leadership. Until December, 2010, Yong Zhao was University Distinguished Professor at the College of Education, Michigan State University, where he also served as the founding director of the Center for Teaching and Technology, executive director of the Confucius Institute, as well as the US-China Center for Research on Educational Excellence.

Zhao was born in China’s Sichuan Province. He received his B.A. in English Language Education from Sichuan Institute of Foreign Languages in Chongqing, China in 1986. After teaching English in China for six years, he came to Linfield College as a visiting scholar in 1992. He then began his graduate studies at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 1993. He received his A.M. in Education in 1994 and Ph.D. in 1996. He joined the faculty at MSU in 1996 after working as the Language Center Coordinator at Willamette University and a language specialist at Hamilton College.


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